God versus Darwin: What is the best predictor of belief in evolution? I guessed education, but I was wrong. The General Social Survey asked a representative sample of Americans in 2006 whether the idea that humans evolved from earlier animals is true or false. Only 49.6% said true. Here is the list of predictors I included in a multivariate model, and the standardized OLS coefficients. (I know, I know--my dependent variable should be normally distributed when estimating OLS coefficients, but the technique is robust enough to handle a dichotomous variable that is evenly distributed between the two categories).
Belief in evolution (standardized OLS regression coefficients)
Years of education .17
Informed about sci/tech .07
Liberal politics .14
Church attendance -.34
Number of valid cases 737
* not significant at .05 level, two-tailed test
Except for race (black v. white) all the effects are statistically significant. Men and younger people are more likely to accept evolution, but the tendency is slight. Being more educated, smarter, or saying that you are informed about science and technology is not particularly predictive--at least not more than being liberal.
It turns out that the bigger winner is religiosity--as church attendance increases, so does skepticism about evolution. Seventy-two percent of people who never go to church believe we evolved from earlier animals: the number for those who attend more than weekly is only 13%! God and Darwin may not necessarily be logically incompatible, but there is a clear sociological divide.
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